African leaders attending the joint SADC-International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in South Africa have hailed President Yoweri Museveni for his efforts in facilitating talks between the Congolese government and the M23 rebels.
A communiqué issued at the end of the Joint Summit also commended the Republics of Malawi, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania for deploying their troops under the auspices of MONUSCO in the eastern DRC.
“President Museveni is commended for his efforts in facilitating the Kampala Dialogue and noted that all the 11 issues under discussion in the Kampala Dialogue had been agreed upon and that the parties would sign an agreement on condition that the M23 makes a public declaration renouncing rebellion, after which the Government would make a public declaration of acceptance,” the communiqué stated.
President Museveni has that Congo’s indifference to efforts by the AU and ICGLR based on a euro centric foreign policy has not only prolonged conflict in the country but also caused innumerable suffering to innocent civilians
He said women and children are the most affected some of whom have been denied citizenship such as the Banyamulenge.
The President castigated the recent M23 fighting in which one person was killed and 155,000 people ended up as refugees in Uganda and called on the warring parties to harness the similarities in the region like that of culture and the dialects to forge peace instead of enmity.
He said SADC, AU and ICGLR have got the potential to solve the problem adding that Uganda is ready to play her part. “When the international conference links up with SADC results will be better,” he said.
The Joint Summit was co-chaired by Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, President of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of SADC and His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and Chairman of the ICGLR.
President Museveni outlined the problems that have affected Congo since 1961 and which have persisted including lack of a legitimately elected government since 1961, poor internal management including an errant army, harboring enemies of neighboring countries like Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Angola and fermenting inter-ethnic tensions and hatred by pitting one group against another and enmity among neighboring countries among others.
The SADC – ICGLR joint summit opened in Pretoria South Africa on Monday with a call to member countries to find a lasting solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The problem of enemies from without and ethnic conflicts from within the country should be immediately addressed,” President Museveni who was also co-chair of the summit said.
He noted that through the regional efforts, an intervention brigade has been formed and more rebels of the M23 are seeking integration in the army.
In his opening remarks, the host, South African President Jacob Zuma welcomed the delegates adding that the conference must aim at freeing the people of these sister regions from the scourges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment.
“South Africa is ready to work with the UN, the AU, SADC and the ICGLR in addressing such national challenges as national reconciliation, post conflict reconstruction and development, security sector reform disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as capacity building and economic development”, he said.
The Malawian President Dr. Joyce Banda said that the joint summit will deepen regional integration, improve infrastructure as well as harnessing the immerse opportunities of development the region.
Joint Summit was attended by various Heads of State and Government or their representatives including DRC’s Joseph Kabila Kabange, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Lesotho’s Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Malawi’s Dr. Joyce Banda, Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba, South Africa’s Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, Tanzania’s Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Zimbabwe’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Swaziland’s Dr. Vincent Mhlanga, Acting Prime Minister Angola Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, the Prime Minister of Mozambique Alberto Vaquina and the Vice President of South Sudan James Wani Igga among others.